Adventures For Over $500

Bucket List Adventures that cost over $500

Don’t Be a Ya, But…Person

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It takes me awhile to commit to something, whether that is a person, a friend, a job or an idea. I tend to think about it, dream about it and honestly, talk myself into it and out of it a dozen times or more before I take the plunge and commit. But when I do watch out then I turn into an obsessed woman. When I’m in, I’m all in. Good, bad, right or wrong. I’m in and you can count on me.

Take grad school for example, I’d thought about going back for my master’s degree for 20 years. It was just something I’d always wanted to do and I wasn’t even sure why. I thought about it immediately after undergraduate school but talked myself out of it then because I was sick of school. I didn’t want to take any more tests! I needed a break I just wanted to work and see how that went.

Soon I discovered working full time didn’t partner well with graduate school. Then we married and started our family. The idea got pushed farther and farther back in my mind. I wanted it yes, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of actually committing to it. I think it was because I knew once I made that commitment there was no way I wasn’t going to do it and it frankly scared me. How would I have the energy to get it all done and still work and raise my kids?

“I should have done this back when I had the chance right out of college” I thought to myself in a kind of mental conversation but in the end it didn’t change a thing.

Then one day I just decided enough was enough. It was time to make that commitment and jet get it done. I decided that I didn’t want to be a “Ya But…Person” You know the kind! The person you are talking to about all the great things they want to do with this life and they get all excited and you can tell they really do want to do all that cool stuff but then they roll out the self defeating fun sucker words “Ya, But…” and then they proceed to tell you all the silly reasons they can’t let themselves be amazing. “Ya, But…I just don’t have time, or money, or brains, or the drive… Ya, But…”

It was that simple. I woke up one day and decided I didn’t want to be a “Ya, But…Person.” It was time to get off my butt and make it happen.

Do you know what happened next? I succeeded. I found the school and program for me. I as accepted, I got a student loan and a baby sitter, I went to class and realized I was going to not only do this but do it well. I thrived when I realized I was doing this just for me. I was going to have to earn this but I had what it took to do it. All the reasons why I couldn’t do this disappeared and I was simply just doing it and enjoying it.

I traded my “Ya, But…” for a “I did it!” I still catch myself ya butting myself every now and then but deep down I know all I have to do is make that commitment. No matter how hard something is if I let myself succeed instead of running away from the challenge cool things can happen.

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So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Memories Revisited

As a kid my family first went snow skiing in Colorado when I was about 13 years old. We’d usually venture out in mid April for some late season skiing or use our Christmas break for some Colorado fun. Always an adventure, our trips to the Rockies in winter seemed magical to me and the fun and excitement of learning how to control my skis and make my way down the mountain on first green slopes and later blue always brings a happy smile to my face. If we were lucky my parents would manage one long weekend a year for our Colorado Winter vacation. If my foggy memory is correct I think the last time I hit the slopes was about 24 years ago.

Now 24 years of non-skiing is a long time, and certainly most women “of my age,” see how I delicately put that, would be content to occasionally take a trip down memory lane and remember the crisp mountain air of a long distant ski trip. Most intelligent women would be content to let their children serve as the next generation of once annual skiers. I consider myself fairly intelligent but apparently not as much as I would like to think. I just had to know the answer to the question: Could I still ski? In a very daring move I put go snow skiing on my bucket list so I could see if I still had it in me.

When I shared this with Dan he promptly stated he would not be joining me on this quest. He was content to let memories remain memories. Ever practical he also did not want to blow out a knee after months of training for his next Ironman. Not to be deterred I simply went about recruiting other quest-mates.

Ever ready for another adventure cousin Sara signed up, her husband Dave basically got drug along. Sam is always game for an excuse to put his snowboarding skills to the test so he was in also. My excuse was Maggie, as a 5th Grader in Colorado you qualify for a Passport to ski for free. What a deal! I signed her up and started plotting possible dates.

We headed to Winter Park this past week and I gamely gave it a go. Guess what? Technically I can still ski! Ya! It was a bit like riding a bike and once I got the skis on I pretty much remembered what to do and not do. Well, pretty much.

I got Maggie set up in all day ski school but I rolled the dice like a true middle-aged rebel and just put on the skis and headed for the nearest lift. I figured “no time like the present” to see if I could still do it. Why mess with a lesson when you could just slide up to the lift and sit down. I remembered enough to know that was the easy part-the hard part was getting off the lift without a wipeout and thus the massive embarrassment of stopping the entire lift while some teenage ski pro lifted your floppy butt up and tried to get you on your feet before the chair hit you in the head.

Sara must have drawn the short straw when I was not looking because she was the one stuck with me for the big gamble. Sam and Dave had managed to disappear into the masses, I am sure praying like mad to get far enough away before the embarrassment began so no one would think we were all together!

Ever the good sport, Sara helped me successfully maneuver the lift line and suddenly I was wrapped in the quiet of the crisp mountain air as we rode to the midway point up the mountain. The smell of the trees, the crisp air biting at my nose and the quiet sway of the gondola instantly opened the door to my memories. Oh my gosh, this was so cool! Suddenly I was 22 years old again racing to the bottom of the mountain so I could ride up and do it again. My memories were crisp and clear, just like the gorgeous December day I was enjoying.

Panic soon pushed these warm fuzzy memories right out the door as I realized the current gondola ride was about to come to an end and I was going to have to make a graceful, skilled and athletic exit off the ramp. “Dear God, please let me do this with just a little bit of dignity,” I begged. One, two, three “keep your tips up” read the sign. “Oh Lord, pleeeeeeasssseeeee…..”

I did it! I managed a rather dignified exit and smoothly entered the first green run of the day. I think Sara was a little bit surprised and maybe a tiny bit impressed.

Carefully I made my way down the mountain in nice easy S curves. As long as I did not get too cocky and get going too fast I actually felt reasonably competent. I must have looked almost like a skier because at one point I heard my name yelled out from above. Apparently, Sam and Dave were on the gondola above me as I deftly skied down the run! I waved a ski pole their direction. I had it going on! Sam was going to be so proud of me!

Flash-forward another hour, all of us were skiing down the mountain together after meeting at the top for a sack lunch. Sara and Sam were a couple hundred yards ahead of me. Dave was gamely skiing and filming me on the video camera but ended up way ahead of me also. Not nearly as cool as I was thinking I was, my ski tip suddenly caught on my ski pole and I went down. Not hard, not in any spectacular wipeout, just down.

“Ok, no big deal” I calmly told myself. “It was bound to happen. Just use your poles and climb up just like you used to” I coached myself.

I did. I used my poles like I thought I was supposed to. It did not work. I got my rear up off the ground but only at knee level and then my skies started sliding downhill. Now I sort of resembled a squatting midget racing down the hill. I tried to pull myself up. My legs quivered and shook but no deal. I tried and tried and tried. Then I sat down. I scanned the trail before me and way in the distance saw Sara, Sam and Dave waiting for me. Oh Lord, this was embarrassing.

I must have tried a dozen times. People kept skiing past me. Little kids roared by me like little bat out of hells. I was stuck. Now what was I going to do?

Just when the tears of embarrassment were starting to well up I looked up and saw Sam carrying his snowboard and running UP THE MOUNTAIN. Thoughts of “what a great son he is” mixed with “OH my gosh this is embarrassing, I can’t believe he is having to come rescue me –again.” Raced through my foggy brain.

In the end, Sam helped me up and I gathered my much-wounded pride and started back down the mountain. Sara, Dave and Sam all agreed that I could no longer go last in case I couldn’t get up again. “Great-now I am the booby prize,” I thought!

Another couple hours later I tried once again to regain my pride. When we were at the top of the mountain I asked Dave to take a posed picture of me. I remembered the last time I had gone skiing a professional photographer took a cool picture of me with one ski in the air. I wanted to recreate the pose today! Dave agreed and I stopped in front of him and quickly raised my right leg and ski- and promptly fell in a tangled heap at his feet. This was not the desired pose at all.

Dave snapped the picture and I had to officially give up the notion that I was 22 years old again. Yes, I could still ski but boy I sure did not look the same as I did so many years ago. I am glad I went I am pleased I can still do it and I am humbled to realize I am not the same girl I was back then. As I thought about it I realized I was just fine with that. Today I was here with my son and my baby girl. I could not have even imagined that 24 years ago.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Nunchucks

Sassy Girl

Before I had children I had the naive thought that as their parent you could shape or mold them into the kind of person you wanted them to be. Over the years I have learned this was a pretty crazy idea. Children are who they are programmed to be; we are here as parents just to try to keep them on the road to success. How they get there is really up to them.

My oldest daughter loved dresses from the day she was born. As a toddler the worst thing I could do to her was make her wear pants. She’s cry and fuss “but mommy I won’t look pretty!” she’d wail when I banned her dress for the afternoon as a punishment for hitting her brother. Quite befuddled at this line of thinking I remember trying to coach her into a more feminist forward way of thinking.

“No honey, you are beautiful from the inside out, who you are as a person is what makes you beautiful” I’d crone on.

“No mommy if I don’t wear a dress I won’t be pretty. It has to twirl!” She’d just as stubbornly insist.

Episode after episode like this transpired over the next umpteen years.

My son would make a gun out of any toy or object in the near vicinity no matter how much I worried if this was politically correct or not. He’d climb up onto the monkey bars at the playground, whip out his thumb and forefinger and start loudly gunning down all the kids on the playground like he was holding a machine gun! I’d run over and try to tell him that he could not shoot the other kids like that. “Why not?” he’d ask as if I were talking to him in Hebrew.

“Because it is not nice to shoot other people” I’d try to reason, more worried about what the other mom’s thought than if this was really that awful of a game.

“But I’m not shooting the other kids mom,” he’d explain to me like I was more than dense. “I’m shooting the bad guys” duh!

In an extremely lame attempt to teach him right from wrong I finally settled on insisting he could only shoot at cans, not kids. He would roll his eyes at me like I was hopeless and continue on with his game. Whenever I’d call him on it he’d insist it was a can he just gunned down and not a bunch of bad guys like a scene from Rambo.

After surviving this thing called motherhood for over 20 years I am starting to lighten up about things. Take my youngest for example. She is currently 10 years old, bright eyed and innocent, just like I’d love for her to stay forever. Instead of bubble wrapping her like I’d like to I relented and enrolled her in the most unlikely of all extra curricular activities- Taekwondo. Yes, I am paying good money to Master Lee to teach my sweet little girl how to fight and how to fight to win.

How did this happen you ask? Well, actually quite innocently, but now that she is signed up I am starting to embrace the idea, kind of.

Master Lee has a Taekwondo school here in town and a year and a half ago he came to her elementary school and put on an assembly. He got the kids excited about marshal arts and offered to support a fundraising event for the school. He would let you be a student at his school for a month for $50 and he would donate all the money back to the school for a climbing wall. Brilliant marketing I must say.

“Sure, we’ll let you go do Taekwondo for a month and contribute money to your school climbing wall” my husband and I readily agreed, thinking nothing of it.

It did not take long to see that Maggie was born for this stuff. She had excellent balance; she could really snap her snap kick. As we watched the class from the hallway it was not difficult to see that she had a knack for this sport. In fact, compared to the 18 months we had just invested in gymnastics she progressed more in one month at Taekwondo than all 18 months in gymnastics.

My husband became a believer after just the first day of class. He looked up on the gymnasium wall and found the words “Quitters Never Win” “Winners Never Quit” “We Are Not Quitters” and professed his support. “Now this is a program I could support,” Dan announced. “I am so sick of all this ‘we’re all winners’ crap out there” “finally someone who has their head on straight!”

Yes, we signed her up and immediately dropped gymnastics. Over the next year we watched in awe as our baby girl earned to break boards with her elbow, foot and wrist. She learned moves designed to drop grown men to their knees in mere seconds and much to my horror she learned how to whip nunchucks around like Jackie Chan.

Her big brother and sister now have a newfound respect for their baby sister and have learned not to push her too far. I guess I now know she’ll be able to protect herself when she is all grown up and goes off to college and I guess that is a good feeling.
(clink on the link Taekwondo to see Maggie in action)

Taekwondo Maggie

For me, learning to let my children become who they are meant to be is a lesson in love; it is not up to me to determine their journey just to be there along the way to cheer them on.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Change in Perspective

 

Ironman

 

About 10 years ago my husband of 11 years announced to me that he wanted to compete in an Ironman Triathlon. This was surprising news considering he had not worked out in years, and although he was active in sports in high school he had not shown any interest in participating other than turning on the TV.

Not wanting to seem like I doubter, I offered a fairly noncommittal “hum.” I was pretty sure this was not going to go anywhere so I engaged in a little conversation.

“Isn’t that the big thing they do in Hawaii?” I asked.

“Yes, but you have to qualify for Hawaii, they have other competitions all over the US that you do not have to qualify for.” He explained.

“Well, what exactly is a triathlon?” I ventured.

“A competition where you swim 2.4 miles, then you bike for 112 miles and then you run 26.2 miles” he patiently explained.

“All in one day?” was my uninformed question.

“Yes!” he enthusiastically explained.

In my mind, I thought there was no way anyone could possibly do all that in one day, certainly not my wonderful husband.

The next week my loving husband announced he was going for a run, in Tennessee where the humidity averaged 80% and the temperatures even at 5:00 am often exceeded 85 degrees. He returned home soon, covered in sweat and soaking wet. I was pretty sure this was not going to last too long but I tried to be encouraging and supportive. “I am proud of you for trying.” I replied.

Soon my husband joined a gym and continued to focus on improving his health. He worked out and slowly he was able to get back into fighting shape, so to speak.

After several months of training he asked me how I felt about him doing an Ironman in San Francisco so we could combine a trip to see my sister with a race for him. Interested I started asking questions. “That could be cool, where would you race?” I inquired.

“Well you swim from Alcatraz and then you bike and swim a route in the city.” He explained.

“Wait a minute, you SWIM from ALCATRAZ? Are you kidding? You can’t swim from Alcatraz; they put Alcatraz out there for a reason! No one escapes from Alcatraz! There are sharks in the water for heavens sake!” I shrieked passionately!

I have never actually told my husband no when he presented a new idea or plan, but this was something totally different. There was no way I could go along with this hair-brain plan even if I got to see my sister out of it!

“Can’t you find a race where you swim in a lake or something?” I begged him.

“OK,” he replied just moderately defeated.

“ I  want to be supportive, but come on, Alcatraz?” I begged again.

Months later he came back to me with a new plan. “How about Utah?” he asked testing the water so to speak.

“I found a new race that I think would work. Ironman is hosting an inaugural race in Provo, Utah next summer. I would swim in a small lake just out side of town. Then I’d bike in the mountains and run in town. What do you think?” he asked as he pitched his new plan.

“Sounds great to me, let’s do it.” I endorsed his big plan.

I spent the next several months watching my husband set seriously challenging goals and then every day take little steps toward that goal. He worked hard, he trained hard, he ran, he biked and he swam. He read books and he studied tapes. I was impressed and I became a believer.

About a year later we packed the van and headed west to Utah.

The day of the big race we woke very early, I could tell he was both excited and a little scared. I am sure he was wondering if he had trained enough and if he had what it took to handle the mental challenge.

Hours later the kids and I stood on the shore of the lake and watched in awe as 2000 competitors all dressed in black wet suits and matching purple swim caps jumped into the water almost as one, and began the grueling day ahead of them.

Having never been at an event like this, I stood just trying to take it all in and understand how this all works. The lake wasn’t big but the wind was really blowing hard. It was impossible to see how the competitors could handle the huge swells, almost 4 feet high.

Finally, I got brave and asked a woman and man standing next to me on the shore- line. “How do the swimmers handle waves like that?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t know” came the reply. “I have never seen conditions this bad.” They honestly answered me. Fear started to swell in my heart.

“How well does your husband swim?” they asked me.

“Oh I don’t know! He can swim in the pool at the Recreation Center in our neighborhood, but I have no idea how well he will do in a lake with 4 feet swells!” I answered. My voice rising as it started to reflect my hysterical nerves.

Within seconds the Ironman officials announced they were calling the race because of the unsafe conditions. They were announcing it right now and the athletes would soon be coming back in.

I stood on the shore frantically searching for my husband when suddenly, I saw a recreational boat roaring toward the dock. I could see a man and woman kneeling on the floor of the boat pushing on something. Much to my horror, I realized they were doing CPR on an athlete as they came to a sudden stop, an ambulance siren ringing in my ears.

“Oh my God!” I whispered, panic rising in my blood.

I struggled to maintain some semblance of control, I did have my three small children with me and I did not want to scare them. I found a race official and asked how I could find my husband.

The volunteer sadly replied that they had no idea who was out of the water and who was not. The only thing they could suggest was that I go stand by his bike because that is where his transition bag would be and if he were out of the water he’d go there for dry clothing. “This was the best they could offer me?” I thought!

I did as I was instructed and I waited there for almost 90 minutes until I finally saw my husband coming on shore and heading toward the bike rack. In nearly a full out panic by now, I rushed to him and gave him a huge hug. He pulled back from me giving me a strange look “what are you doing” he asked.

“Where have you been?” the words rushed out of me.

“What do you mean? I have been swimming.” He replied a bit disgusted.

“There are all kinds of people missing, don’t you get it? They called the race almost 90 minutes ago and I couldn’t find you anywhere. I was afraid something had happened to you! They took two people away in ambulances!” The words rushed out of me.

“I am fine, I thought I was swimming a good race. I had no idea they cancelled the race.” He calmly explained to me a bit embarrassed by the way I was acting.

Finally, assured my husband was fine and in good shape I relaxed just a bit.

The race officials got the situation back under control and restarted the race with the bike and the run soon to follow. I spent the rest of the day watching for my husbnad to bike and run by, the kids and I cheering him on as best we could.

My husband did something really cool that day, he showed me that amazing things can happen once you change your perspective. Once he decided he wanted to complete an Ironman he changed his perspective about what was possible. As soon as he believed he could do it he simply took many little steps toward his goal until his goal became a reality. He taught me that once you decide to do something, anything could happen, even something that should be impossible.

One of my goals in life is to help my husband make a dream come true. I tried to be his support team and believe in him when he needed it the most. The sad thing is that he is the one who taught me the most that day. It was a powerful lesson for me.

I have never been so proud of my husband as I was when the announcer loudly proclaimed in the microphone, “Dan you are an Ironman!”

Later, laughing about the excitement of the day I told him he might as well have done the Alcatraz Ironman, it couldn’t have been much more dangerous than this one was!

Ironman Dan

 

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list.”

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